Maker: Henry EiseleCirca: 1890’s-early 1900’s
Dimensions: 12”(h) x 16”(dia.)
One day, back in the day, while attending my good friend Jack Lawton’s PA Vintage Drum Show in Sunbury, I first met another good friend and fellow collector, Jack Ricciutti. Among the many wonderful vintage drums Jack had brought to the show was an incredible 1926, 4” x 14” Leedy Elite snare drum. Not only was this drum beautifully engraved and trimmed in Art Gold, it also sounded great. Not having enough pocket cash with me that day to make the deal, I took Jack’s phone number and some notes on the drum. I also learned that Jack had a couple Slingerland Radio King WMP snare drums at his home in New Jersey.
Back home I started looking into Leedy Elites and Radio Kings, making a few phone calls to people in the know and decided the Leedy would be a wise investment to my collection. A few months later I made the call to Jack and we agreed to meet at his home in a week and do the deal on the Leedy.
At Jacks home we made our way to the studio where there were drums everywhere. He soon presented me with the drum I had come for and we eventually started talking about the Radio Kings he had mentioned back at the drum show. They were from the late 1930s and early 40s and in great condition. We soon made a deal on them and I happily added them to my treasure trove. As I continued to examine my two new and unexpected finds, I hadn’t noticed that Jack had left the room. When he returned, he placed on the floor at my feet an old rope tension drum. During our prior conversations, I had mentioned that I was an old drum corps kid from DCA and DCI. What Jack had not only was a very cool old rope drum, but one that was identified from the artwork on the shell as the “Garfield Corps.” Being a former DCI member, that name rang home with me.
I decided that this extra drum should also come home with me and we settled on a price. Jack sent me on my way home with a nice bottle of wine and a handshake that would be repeated often. The trip back home was filled with the satisfaction that only a car load of new vintage drums can bring.
While the Leedy and Slingerland drums were an
incredible score, I was entirely consumed with the
intrigue of what I might uncover on the “Garfield
Corps” drum, which today is another “X” in the
hunt for my next perfect drum.
Since this rope drum was previously restored by Jack Lawton, there was nothing to do but research and enjoy it. The paper maker’s label inside the drum identifies Henry Eisele of New York City as the maker. Eisele is listed as being established as a drum maker as early as 1862. He eventually became the successor to famed drum maker, William Sempf, who he worked with and perfected his trade. Eisele eventually took over Sempf’s business when he retired in the mid 1880s. The label reads: “Henry Eisele / Successor to Wm. Sempf / Manufacturer of / Bass and Snare Drums / 209 and 211 Grand Street, New York / N.B. – Drum Heads, Sticks, Cords, etc. / Constantly on Hand.” Eisele maintained this address listing from the mid-1880’s until the early 1900’s.